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How come Beneteau killed the First 35 line?

Discussion in 'Ask All Sailors' started by weinie, Dec 6, 2018 at 11:38 AM. Add this thread to a FAQ

  1. weinie

    weinie

    Joined Sep 6, 2010
    1,293 posts, 260 likes
    Jeanneau 349
    US port washington, ny
  2. Jackdaw

    Jackdaw

    Joined Nov 8, 2010
    9,644 posts, 2,704 likes
    Beneteau First 36.7 & 260
    US Minneapolis MN & Bayfield WI
    @weinie ,
    Interesting question.

    While a First 30 was the first First, the 35 foot models have always held the spiritual DNA of the series. Indeed, there have more 35 foot models, and probably more of them sold, than any other length of First.

    The apogee of the 35s was probably the First 36.7. Designed by Bruce Farr in 2000 and sold from 2001 to 2011, it was a great cruiser and One Design and handicap racer. Large OD fleet exist worldwide. Designed for symmetrical kite and overlapping 140% genoa, it rated well in PHRF.

    The First 35 (4th boat named that?) of 2011 was actually a much improved boat. Better interior, and the bigger rig with non-overlapping headsail made it easier to cruise. 1000 lbs lighter. The kite was still symmetric, but now full masthead, and an asym was optional flown off a small factory prod.

    But it never sold well. OD racers would rather buy a 2-8 year old 36.7 and race tomorrow, instead of hoping a fleet would build. The non-overlapping plan doomed it in many PHRF fleets. Want something racy but a little different? The Sunfast 3600 works. Most of the ones I know in the USA are being cruised, and the owners LOVE them. A few years ago Bene added a retractable asym pole, making the boat look like a J/109. They also added a trick (but small) Jefa wheel that pivots from side to side. Some like it. I hate it.

    In the end, there was not enough different about the boat. And Beneteau could see the handwriting on the wall. In NEW boats people want full-on cruisers (AKA Oceanis), or fast light boats that can race or light cruise. Any wonder that that bought Seascape?

    But they are not done with bigger Firsts. In fact, they are wrapping up a new boat that is true to the First name but also revolutionary. Expect in 2019. Any guess how long it will be? 35 feet.
     


    weinie likes this.
  3. JohnShannon

    JohnShannon

    Joined Jan 4, 2010
    703 posts, 76 likes
    Farr 30
    US San Francisco
    Sunfast 3200 and Sunfast 3600 look like more interesting boats, same owner different brand.
     


  4. 907Juice

    907Juice

    Joined Apr 7, 2016
    79 posts, 19 likes
    Beneteau First 305
    US Seward, Alaska
    First, you said “first First” and I giggled a bit. You know, like when someone says do do... Wait, now that was three Firsts!! This is getting confusing, I think that may have actually been four.
    While a First 30 was the first First, the 35 foot models have always held the spiritual DNA of the series. Indeed, there have more 35 foot models, and probably more of them sold, than any other length of First.

    And second, the first second, you’re a living encyclopedia with these boats! Thanks for keeping us informed with these beneteau boats.
     


    Jackdaw likes this.
  5. FastOlson

    FastOlson

    Joined Apr 8, 2010
    1,006 posts, 107 likes
    Ericson Yachts Olson 34
    US Portland OR
    The comments on the 36.7 are interesting. About a dozen years ago we were toying with the idea of a bigger boat. Looked at the 367 and 373 side by side in Seattle. While not Bene fans, we were willing to seriously consider them.

    The 367 was just about perfect on deck, i.e. designed for active sailing with a great cockpit, while the interior was awful -- the head compartment was cramped and barely useable.

    OTOH, the 373 had a really nice interior layout but the deck design was awful for sailing. The broker told us the company had decided to aim for totally different markets and our comments echoed those of other sailors, but (at that time) there were no "dual purpose" boats from them.
    If nothing else it reconfirmed our allegiance to our Olson 34 with it's combination of cruising amenities and dedication to sailing on deck.

    The Bene's were nice looking, but you had to choose one set of features or another. Period. Things change and perhaps they will change their marketing again.
    (?)
    :)
     


  6. Jackdaw

    Jackdaw

    Joined Nov 8, 2010
    9,644 posts, 2,704 likes
    Beneteau First 36.7 & 260
    US Minneapolis MN & Bayfield WI
    Indeed, the quest to make three full sleeping cabins in the 367 rendered the V birth and the forward head basically unusable. The three cabin idea was born out of European racing, where crews usually slept on the boat during long regattas. In the US we don’t do that, and it would’ve been much better served with two cabins and then after head.

    The 2011 First 35 addressed that.

    Hard to imagine anyone looking at those two boats at the same time. 367 is Minute a mile faster!
     


  7. Jackdaw

    Jackdaw

    Joined Nov 8, 2010
    9,644 posts, 2,704 likes
    Beneteau First 36.7 & 260
    US Minneapolis MN & Bayfield WI
    But you rather point, you are
    But you other point, you are absolutely correct about their bifurcated product lines.

    Recently the new jeanneau models have been much more down the middle, cruisers with decent performance capabilities and deck layouts. Now Beneteau is doing the same thing with Oceanis, creating an option level called the ‘first performance’, which is kind of like Audi uses ‘S line’ for their sporty A models as opposed to a full on S car.
     


    Last edited: Dec 8, 2018 at 3:40 PM

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